EXCLUSIVE: Scottish energy sector demands government includes solar, hydro and hydrogen renewables in Scottish Energy Strategy

EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News

Scotland’s energy industry has generally endorsed  the government’s draft Scottish Energy Strategy – which will be debated in Holyrood in the New Year.

But there are reservations about the strategy, which is criticised for being vague, opaque and lacking in specifics in too many areas – and  also for overlooking solar power, hydro-power and hydrogen renewable energies.

The independent analysis of the responses to the consultation on the Scottish Energy Strategy noted:

“There were a number of caveats regarding the weight of emphasis on certain priorities, a perceived lack of detail or perceived areas of omission.

“For example, a relatively large number of respondents welcomed the development and commercialisation of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), although they also highlighted perceived technical and / or financial challenges in the development of large-scale CCS on a cost effective basis.

“A range of different technologies were cited for inclusion in the energy mix and there were references to solar thermal energy and pumped hydro storage as providing competitive cost-effective options.

“There were requests for more detail on different aspects of the target to reduce greenhouse emissions – particularly on the effort required in the heat and transport sectors which are perceived to be much more challenging to decarbonise with current renewable technologies.”

There is clear support for developing the role of hydrogen in Scotland’s energy mix – and a key benefit is the capacity to use the existing gas distribution network <when natural North Sea gas runs out>.

Many respondents <from the Scottish energy sector> cited a number of benefits to using hydrogen for transport including that:

  • It produces no harmful emissions and thus can improve air quality.
  • Hydrogen electric vehicles are quieter and smoother to run.
  • Hydrogen electric vehicles have a better range of travel than battery powered electric vehicles (BPVs) and a shorter refuelling time. There were also some comments that an infrastructure would need to be in place to encourage development and take up of hydrogen electric vehicles.
  • There is significant potential for the hydrogen sector to harness the skills and expertise that have been developed within the offshore oil and gas industry.
  • There are opportunities to produce hydrogen from water when large wind farms and other renewable energy generation facilities are facing constraints (aka forced off the grid)
  • Hydrogen is low carbon / zero carbon at point of use.
  • The combination of hydrogen from steam methane reformers along with CCS technology could mean a very low carbon fuel source that can be used to help address the traditionally hard-to-decarbonise sectors of heat and transport.
  • Hydrogen can be delivered at constant prices irrespective of wider fossil fuel energy market price movements.

The key comment emerging across these respondents was that while decarbonisation of the electricity sector is largely complete, that the heat and transport sectors will be much more difficult. As summarised in one consultation response statement:

“The decarbonisation of the electricity sector is largely complete – that can be viewed as ‘the easy bit’.

“Tackling the heat and transport sectors will be much more difficult, and will require a concerted effort from both public and private sectors.”

Onshore Oil and Gas (aka fracking)

Interestingly, the report shows that (only) 35 respondents commented on onshore oil and gas exploration (aka ‘fracking’) at various questions throughout the consultation.

And fewer than half of these submissions (17) were against the development of shale gas or fracking – including the use of fracking to produce hydrogen.

Nine respondents supported the recovery of unconventional oil and gas, or said it requires consideration and another said that the ‘Scottish Government should keep an open mind.’

Comments from this group were more in-depth than from those opposed to UOG and are summarised below:

  • The need to look at ways to ensure supplies in the light of dwindling North Sea gas and the impact on the economy of importing foreign supplies.
  • That importing oil and gas also comes with environmental impacts.
  • Requests for a more favourable <political> attitude in order to allow a debate on the subject.

17 Nov 2017

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